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Poker FUNdamentals: Decisions From The Felt

by Ryan Laplante |  Published: Jan 30, 2019

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It is day 2 of the World Poker Tour Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic, and I have just been moved to a new table after eating on dinner break. When I sit down in the six seat I immediately start to look at and analyze my table.

I first see that my stack size of 130,000 in chips (The big blind is 2,500) is a bit below average for the field, and well below average on this table. I also notice that I know only one person at the table, a student of mine, and that the rest of the table draw appears to be recreational players. It is also important to note that while we are on day 2 after dinner, we are still a fairly long way from making the money.

This is a great table to try to build my stack to have a good shot at cashing and making a deep run on day 3. Because of this I will be opening looser than what game theory would suggest and try my best to really play a lot of hands post-flop.

The hand for this article occurred pretty early into sitting down at this table, thus, outside of being up against mostly recreational players, I had no other specific reads.

Blinds: 1,500-2,500 with a 2,500 big blind ante
Stack: 130,000
Hand: KDiamond Suit QDiamond Suit
Position: UTG

Having a hand as strong as K-Q suited is almost always an open from any position. I have an easy decision to raise. The only question is how much? You can strongly argue for min raising to 5,000, or any sizing to as large as 8,000.

Which should I pick, and does it matter which I pick?

I believe it strongly matters what sizing you choose to raise with preflop! You need to always have a general game plan that doesn’t show your hand strength in picking the same size raise with all of your hands. You also need to pick a sizing that works best on your table, relative to your edge and how they are playing. Because I am on a soft table and want to play a lot of hands, it would be a poor decision by me to raise too large. I choose to raise to 5,000.

Action: I raise to 5,000, folds to the cutoff who calls, the button calls, and the main villain in this hand defends the big blind.

Villain in the big blind is Robert Mantin. At the time I didn’t know who it was. A few days later, from reading an article by Sean Chaffin I learned that Robert is an 85-year-old business man who won a satellite to win his seat. At his age he still works out daily and runs three to four miles as well with each workout! He didn’t want to play the event, opting to try to get the cash prize in the tournament. But as he ended up getting a seat, he had to play, and ended on an incredible run in tenth place to earn $163,000.

Pot: 24,000
Flop: ADiamond Suit 7Diamond Suit AClub Suit

This is a fairly good flop for my hand. Having the nut flush draw on a high paired board where hitting my K-Q likely gives me the best hand is a good situation to be in, even though we are four ways in this it is still a great spot for me to bet for value and to deny equity to my opponents. That being said, I don’t want to go too large, as if I get raised I will be in a pretty rough spot, likely up against an ace or a full house.

Action: Robert checks the blind, I continuation-bet 7,000, cutoff folds, button folds, and Robert raises to 15,000.

Getting raised here makes me very uncertain, as while I have a great drawing hand, it is possible that my opponent has me drawing dead, or that if I do hit, I won’t get paid very well. That being said, with 46,000 in the pot, and 8,000 to me, I have an easy call.

Pot: 54,000
Turn: 10Diamond Suit
Action: Robert checks.

Bingo! Definitely one of the best cards in the deck for me. I can bet this comfortably for value. If I get raised, I won’t be happy, but if I get called, I almost certainly have the best hand.

Action: I bet 22,000, Robert calls.
Pot: 98,000
River: QHeart Suit
Action: Robert quickly leads 40,000.

I was on cloud nine when he called the turn. I was very confident I was about to win a large pot, and be in a great spot to really build a nice stack. Then when he led the river, all that confidence went out the door.

On the surface this is a pretty easy decision. Our opponent told us on the previous street that we have the best hand. And when they lead 40,000 here into a pot of 98,000, I am getting 3.45:1 odds, and thus only need to have the best hand 22.5 percent of the time in order to call.

But, instead of flicking in the chips and calling, I started to instead think of the hand from my opponent’s point of view. What type of hand does he have that wants to put in 40,000 in chips. Would a bare ace do so? How about a low flush? Also, what does he think I have, and what does he think I have that can call that type of bet? Would he believe that a bare flush would call that large? Isn’t it very possible that I have a full house myself?

After a few minutes of debating the above questions I made my decision.

So what did I do?

Don’t worry about it! The important thing is that you look at all the information you have available and think through your decisions. Don’t just take automatic actions.

But if you really must know what happened, reach out to me on Twitter @ProtentialMN with your thoughts on the hand and I’ll let you off the hook. ♠

Ryan Laplante is a 2016 WSOP Bracelet winner. He has more than $4.5 million in tournament cashes with seven WSOP final tables. His website is PokerProtential.com, and he is a coach for Chip Leader Coaching